Judeo-Spanish / WED 5-6-15 / Processed bauxite / Longtime General Hospital actress / Peculiar sundial numeral / Hobo transporter / French legislative body

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SEASONS (35A: Noted quartet) — circled letters spell out seasons …

Word of the Day: LADINO (44D: Judeo-Spanish) —
noun: Ladino; plural noun: Ladinos
  1. 1
    the language of some Sephardic Jews, especially formerly in Mediterranean countries. It is based on medieval Spanish, with an admixture of Hebrew, Greek, and Turkish words, and is written in modified Hebrew characters.
  2. 2
    a mestizo or Spanish-speaking white person in Central America. (google)
• • •

Wow. A decorative non-theme (seriously, there are no theme clues … just some circled words … so, as I say, decorative; insubstantial; no there there). And the fill was laughable in many parts. Not just iffy, but hilariously subpar. It's all Es and Ss in the middle and then ANNA LEE (?!) ALUMINA (lol) LADINO (…) in the corners. IIIIIIIIIIIII can't believe it's not b(e)tter. Whoo boy. Yeesh. The arbitrariness of TEN TONS, the ISH-ness of EEEE, the minimal HAIs, the abundant PLO(w)s, the IN SHAPE of IN ALL IN ESSENCE GET IN ON! IT'S IN like NIN! This is headshakingly amateurish. You can see how poorly planned and sloppy the execution is just by looking at LADINO. That is obscure fill. It is. It really is. And it's totally unnecessary. I *guarantee* you, if you are somehow a LADINO-lover, that that word was not not not not planned. That's accident fill. How do I know? Because the obvious "fix" is LATINO, but There Is A Reason LATINO can't go there, namely that would put TIE at 53A, and TIE is already in the grid at 10D: Reason for extra play (TIE GAME) (not sure why a duped TIE should bother someone who puts "IN" in the puzzle 5 (!!!!) times, but there you go). So LADINO is a sad attempt at salvage. Now, in corner already burdened with ATRIP and HAI and TAI and the weirdly iffy NOTATES, LADINO should've set off the "intolerable" alarm. Corner should've been redone. But it was Band-aided. IIII! EEEE! this was TEN TONS of baloney.

["I, I, I, I…"]

Honestly, the end. Since there's no theme to comment on, the end. I got nothing to work with here. See you tomorrow.

No, one more thing: a moment of silence, please, so we may reflect upon the fact that this grid has both EEEE and IIII in it. Surely that is some kind of record in Repeated Vowel Achievement. We are all witness.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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Bygone Korean automaker / TUE 5-5-15 / Small house in Latin America / Shoes named for antelope / Vera of haute couture / Vivacious wits /

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Constructor: Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (**for a Tuesday**) (time: 4:08)

THEME: ADDIE (69A: Girl's name that's a two-part hint to 1/20-, 27-, 45- and 53-Across) — put -IE on the ends of familiar phrases. You get wacky phrases.

Theme answers:
  • SWEET / GEORGIA BROWNIE (1A: With 20-Across, chocolaty Atlanta treat?)
  • BAR STOOLIE (27A: One ratting out a group of lawyers?)
  • RARE BIRDIE (45A: What the duffer shot on a hole, surprisingly?)
  • SHOCKING PINKIE (53A: Little finger that makes you go "Oh my God!"?) [What? Even with ample wackiness leeway, that clue makes no sense.]
Word of the Day: DAEWOO (10D: Bygone Korean automaker) —
Daewoo Motors was a South Korean automotive company established in 1982, part of the Daewoo Group. It sold most of its assets in 2001 to General Motors, after running into financial trouble, becoming a subsidiary of the American company and being renamed GM Daewoo. In 2011, it was replaced by GM Korea. (wikipedia)
• • •

Don't know a single person named ADDIE, real or fictional, so puzzle feels massively contrived. Actually, I think I might know of one. Hang on (… goes to wikipedia…); yes, the basis for the movie Paper Moon was a novel entitled ADDIE Pray by Joe David Brown. My friend Shelah taught me this 20+ years ago (she loved the novel, as I recall). Why I remember this factoid 20+ years later, I don't know … maybe because No One Else In The Universe Is Named ADDIE. So anyway, the theme is odd. The theme *type* is super-basic. The add-a-sound / letter thing is older than God, and here, the wackiness results are just so-so. I don't know what "shocking pink" is. Is it a kind of pink? A shade of pink? I know of "hot pink," but not "shocking pink," so SHOCKING PINKIE is strange to me. All in all, this is a placeholder puzzle. Fill is stale but serviceable, and concept is stale but adequately executed. There are cheater squares* in the E and W (black squares below EARL and above WEAR, respectively), lord only knows why. Tiny sections like that are not hard to fill. Cheaters also follow WATER and precede VIRAL. Theme does not seem so demanding that you have to black-square it to death like this. Whole puzzle feels tired and slapdash. And, most importantly, ADDIE? Shouldn't a name you base an entire puzzle on be a name someone actually has (my apologies if that's your name—the only ADDIE I know is a guy, and he doesn't spell it that way).

Because of the multiple cross-referenced clues, and the very narrow connecting passages between N and S parts of the grid, and some odd, yucky, initially inscrutable fill like ECCLES (?), my time was way slower than normal. I had to recall DAEWOO, which was odd / unpleasant. I also had to go up against the Law Offices of ILO ESSE ESTO ESAI ERI and OLE (they're not good, but they'll bury you in paperwork). Honestly, this puzzle feels just plain lazy. The puzzle equivalent of a shrug. Not enough thought or care went into making this an entertaining, fresh, 21st-century puzzle. It'll do, but it won't do well. Where are SHARPIE? JUNKIE? MOUNTIE? ARCHIE? This could've Easily been a Sunday (and if the theme answers were a lot funnier, it could even have been a tolerable Sunday).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*cheater squares = black squares that do not change the word count (added only to make filling the grid easier)

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